Journal Entry by Jenni James

S – Scripture:  Luke 14: 26 (NLIV)
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes and even his own life- he cannot be My disciple.

O - Observation
This verse has always been confronting to me, after all, the word ‘hate’ seems so intense! According to our Bible in One Year Devotional by Nicky Gumble ‘hate’ is actually a Semitic idiom that means to ‘love less’. Therefore, what is really being said is that we are to love Jesus above all others and so by default that means loving our family and even our own life less than Him. Interestingly this verse comes after the story of the Master inviting people to his banquet to which they all provide excuses to which they cannot attend. Every person had an excuse as to why they could not come and spend time with the Master, they all had a ‘reason’ as to why they could not prioritise sitting at the banquet. It sounds so similar to us doesn’t it, there is always something going on that could potentially stop us from prioritising Jesus. 
To be very honest I have struggled with understanding how to love Jesus more than my family, this became very apparent when I first had my kids. How do you possibly put anyone before these little bundles of gorgeousness?? However, I had an experience that turned all of that around for me. It was probably a year or so after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I was in a mess, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was very depressed at not being able to function with any ounce of success, and as I lay awake in the middle of the night with no one there to help me or talk to me I suddenly got it…. my lifeline was Jesus. When no one else was there He was, when I had no one else to talk to, He was there, when everything was stripped away all I had left was Jesus. The love I felt for Him was intense. Everything else in my life could potentially come and go but Jesus. This is why I can love him more than anyone else because He is good, He is love, He never leaves us or forsakes us even when our world is falling apart, He is always, always there.  

A - Application
After my light bulb moment, I realised that every day is a choice to keep loving Jesus more and to keep placing Him first in my life. I think that is true of all of us, we all need to keep making that choice because it is so easy to get swept away in the business of life or to choose to make other things a priority like the people who did not attend the banquet. What does placing Jesus first mean for me? It means loving Him, spending time with Him, understanding Him, being guided and directed by Him, knowing His word, worshipping Him both personally and communally, communicating with Him! 

P - Prayer
Jesus, help me to choose to keep you above all others in my life again and again and again. Help me not to become distracted by other people or by other activities that take me away from you. Jesus I love you above any other. Amen .